(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — Although 2008 had its challenges and missteps, it wasn’t a bad year overall. Probably the biggest accomplishment I had this last year was being more true to myself as a writer and as a person. I am often a person who does things out of a feeling of obligation or of familiarity, and this is something I have been trying extremely hard to work on.
For instance, in the past, if someone I barely know but who helped me carry my groceries in 5 years ago asked me to help them move next weekend, I may very well have said yes even if it was a huge inconvenience and I really didn’t want to or particularly care for the person and knew they had other options anyway because I feel like I have to return the favor and I like to think of myself as a nice girl.
In other words, I haven’t always been great at boundaries.
In business, this has meant taking on a lot of projects, and often long-term clients, whose work I happen to be good at but simply do not enjoy or that does not pay anywhere near enough purely because the work is there and was offered to me, because I felt like it would be bad business or flat-out stupidity to say no. This also took the form of accepting less than I knew I was worth because I didn’t have the courage to demand higher rates. In 2008, that changed, and in a big way.
I finally developed the courage to fire a client I’d worked with for my entire freelance career, but whose work I dreaded because it was not what I wanted to be doing with my time even though it was regular income and I was good at it. Editing clinical research articles is not something I’m passionate about. It’s just not. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, but I felt about forty-three thousand pounds lighter after I did it. And although there have been times since that I wished I had the regular check coming in, I still have not regretted it even for an instant. Even on the days I wonder if it was the best thing to do amid a recession, I’m still proud of myself for doing it even though it scared me because it was the right thing for me and for my business. It wasn’t quite as obviously awesome as when my friend fired his nightmare client, and it was totally amicable in my case, but it was very gratifying.
There was another client I fired in 2008: my regular blogging gig. I started blogging professionally for b5media in January 2007 and it was an awesome ride. I have nothing but love for those peeps, and they gave me incredible support and amazing opportunities to get my blogging career off the ground during my 22 months hosting Lively Women and my 13 months co-hosting Biz Chicks Rule. I worked with an awesome group of bloggers and learned a lot. But I came to realize that what I really wanted to do as a blogger wasn’t writing exclusively about the topics I was writing about there, and I didn’t have time to do both. It was a hard decision to let that go, both emotionally and financially, and I labored over it. I actually cried about it. (Remember how I’m not so good with the boundaries? Yeah.) But it was the right choice, and even though it sucked, it was good. If I hadn’t left when I did, I would have grown to resent it, and that wouldn’t have been useful for anyone. And before I left, I grew my blogs enormously, something that gave me a huge feeling of pride an accomplishment.
Something else I said goodbye to in 2008 was the Inkthinker Query Challenge. Don’t get me wrong — I think the Query Challenge was awesome and it was a ton of fun. But it was also an administrative nightmare and an incredible time suck. Of the hundredsome participants, maybe three reported in every single month. And as much as I want to give back to the writing community, I just don’t have this kind of time anymore. So I had to let it go. And again, it was a relief. And those three people who reported in each month continued to keep me posted about their progress and I looked forward to hearing about their successes and celebrating with them because it was just plain fun when the hours of tabulation and recordkeeping were off the table.
This post is about celebrations, and even though I’m talking a lot about goodbyes, these are all happy ones. And there is nothing I was happier to say goodbye to than low-paying clients, let me tell you. What? My rates are too high? Then go hire someone who charges less, because this is how much it costs to work with me. I’m not interested in tire kickers or bargain hunters. I’m worth every penny, and if you don’t agree, you shouldn’t be hiring me in the first place. Sounds convincing, right? Well, that’s because I believe it. Finally.
Despite a large number of goodbyes last year, there were also some important hellos: my new blog, Sass Pants; my membership on the Board of Directors of American Independent Writers (which, btw, you should join); and my new company, Inkthinker Communications, LLC. I spoke at the National Press Club (holy crap, right?) and BlogHer DC and guest taught some classes in The George Washington University’s master of professional studies in publishing program (of which I am a graduate). I was featured in the new edition of How to Start a Home-Based Writing Business. Oh, and did I mention that one of my clients got a two-book deal with Bantam Dell? It was a big year.
But biggest of all, I made it: 2008 was my second full year of full-time freelancing. Even though it didn’t all go as planned and I would do some things differently if I had it all to do over again, the bottom line is that I did it. I did it. The last day of my “real job” was April 28, 2006, and I have no intention of going back. I’m coming up on my third anniversary this year, and how thrilling is that? It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but it’s always real and it’s always where I want to be. I am living my dream: making a living as a writer. It doesn’t get better than this.
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